A question I’ve been thinking about more recently is, what makes health behavior change so special? And surprisingly enough for someone who’s spent over a decade focusing on health behavior change, I think the answer is: It’s not. The more I explore other behavior change challenges, the more I see that designing for health isn’t really different from other types of behavior change interventions. Continue reading What’s Different About Designing For Health?
The big thing on my mind right now is preparing for my presentation at SXSW next Saturday. My J&J colleague and pal Raphaela O’Day and I are going to be discussing “Moral Issues in Designing for Behavior Change,” and how we grapple with them as psychologists who design and create interventions to improve health and healthcare.
Continue reading Moral Issues in Designing for Behavior Change
I came across this sort of goofy article about how people’s personalities shift depending on where they live. Why do I call it goofy? Because insofar as “personality” refers to stable characteristics of an individual, it shouldn’t be especially mutable based on location. But what the article does capture is that the environment we live in goes a long way toward determining how we express those personality traits through behavior. Continue reading Where You Are Is Who You Are: Personality By Geography
Companies that do “year in review” features for their customers can often spark continued engagement by supporting the key psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. By reviewing all of the customer’s activity, showing how it adds up to bigger outcomes, and how the customer is part of a larger community, the reviews can make people feel like their consumer habits were meaningful. I’ve received these sorts of round-ups in past years from Map My Run and Blue Apron and found them engaging. Continue reading A Slightly Less Than Motivating Year In Review: Delta Airlines
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel at the Next Edge Summit in Boston. The two day event’s theme was “Reimagining the Patient Journey.” Much of that re-imagination came through the lens of technology, and specifically artificial intelligence and its role in creating and delivering personalized health interventions. The focus stems from the expertise of Next IT Healthcare, which presents the summit. Continue reading Next Edge Summit 2016 Recap
Did you know that visualizing yourself differently can help you make health changes now? Depending on what you’re trying to change, either imagining a better future you or a worse one could provide the psychological and physiological fuel for transformation. For people looking to lose weight and improve lifestyle behaviors, picturing a worst place scenario future self might help. If you’re struggling instead with chronic pain, your solution may be to envision a better future you. Continue reading Imagining Your Future Self Can Help You Be Healthier Now
Subcategorization is a social identity dynamic that can have either negative or positive ramifications for behavior. This psychological process happens when a person or group is deliberately excluded from comparison. It’s what US Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez just did to her teammate Simone Biles when she told Aly Raisman before the floor exercise competition, “If you get silver again, you’re the best, because Simone doesn’t count.”
A while back I wrote about a program that uses choice to help picky eaters broaden their palates. I just finished reading First Bite: How We Learn to Eat by Bee Wilson, where she describes a more intensive version of the choice paradigm to help what is know as “restricted eaters” gain comfort with more foods. The basic premise of Wilson’s work is that taste is learned; anyone can expand their food repertoire with practice. Continue reading The Psychology of Adventurous Eating
Supporting people’s sense of autonomy is a key principle for designing engaging experiences. Designers can sometimes nudge users into taking specific actions by painting those actions as being consistent with the user’s values or goals. For example, insurance advertisements often focus on how the product can protect loved ones if the buyer dies unexpectedly; this plays on a common deeply-held value of looking out for the family’s best interests. A lighter hearted but poorly executed version of this has lately been endemic on my travels through the web: Email sign-up light boxes that accuse the user of some undesirable quality if they don’t enter an email address.
Former US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop famously said that “drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them.” (C. Everett Koop also bears the distinction of being someone I confused with Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken regularly throughout the 1980s.) Likewise, it doesn’t really matter how great an experience is if you can’t get someone to engage with it in the first place. Continue reading Engagement Is Everything. (That’s My Excuse.)